Product Innovation: A Moment of Genius or The Collision of Hunches?

Chance Favors the Connected Mind

In Steven Johnson’s recently published book, Where Good Ideas Come From, he offers a keen historical insight that the most significant driver of technological innovation and creativity came from increased connectivity – connected minds.  Contrary to innovation folklore, significant innovation does not typically result from a single moment of genius.   But in fact, is the “collision” of hunches of many individuals that occurs once they discover a space to share their hunches and allow them to mingle, incubate and form.

So, what’s a modern application to this historical perspective?  Social Product Development

Johnson does make the argument that while the Internet creates more distraction having created an “always on, always connected, multi-tasking” environment, it has also created the space, where minds can share and collaborate, that will lead to the next level of innovation.

Technology companies can use Johnson’s insight to gain greater wins in their own innovation efforts.  By creating a space, through the use of social networks, companies can harness the power of the global talent pool to connect the best minds and allow ideas to mingle, incubate and form.  There already exist good examples of companies that are embracing social networks to taken innovation in their companies to the next level –   IBM Jams, Cisco’s iPrize,  and Netflix’s Prize – all examples of breaking outside the traditional methods of innovation to reach beyond the resources within a single organization.   There also exists numerous social platform tools, like Spigit, BrightIdea, and Communispace, that provide a customizable framework, data monitoring and analytics, and community management support to allow companies to implement a social product development strategy that complements their tradition process.

Innovation is all about connecting the best ideas of individuals to create something where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Technology companies that are not embracing the collective creative are missing the boat.

Your competition is doing it – and you should be too.

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